The humble buttermilk may every Indian’s favourite way to end their meal and for a good reason. Apart from the popular health benefits of hydration and cooling down the body in scorching heat, the beverage is also credited for a healthy heart. According to a research that appeared in the magazine, Gut, buttermilk has specific molecules that contribute to keeping the heart healthy. Published by the British Medical Journal, the research also said, certain biomolecules present in buttermilk and other fermented dairy products can reduce the build-up of cholesterol and other harmful blood lipids which push a person towards developing a heart attack.
The study was conducted at the French National Agricultural Research Institute, INRA and lead by Marie-Caroline Michalski. The team wanted to explore how certain lipids (a class of organic compounds including fats, oils and hormones) naturally found in higher concentrations in milk products can cut the cardiovascular risk in people. These biomaterials, known as polar lipids were seen to reduce cholesterol absorption in the intestine of rodents in previous pre-clinical studies. However, until now, these effects had never been demonstrated in humans.
“While polar lipids are present in most milk products, buttermilk and butter serum contain higher concentrations,” said Michalski. To understand how milk polar lipids reduce cardiovascular risk, the scientists carried out studies in overweight postmenopausal women.
The complementary studies of the research also suggested that certain milk polar lipids and cholesterol may form a complex in the small intestine that cannot be absorbed by the gut and is ultimately excreted in the stool.
“We cannot rule out that the daily consumption of regular buttermilk for longer periods may also contribute to maintaining a good blood lipid profile in countries where liquid buttermilk is traditionally consumed, this would now be important to verify,” Michalski said.
The scientists felt that these findings could ultimately provide a foundation for new nutritional strategies to reduce cardiovascular risk factors in certain vulnerable populations.
A lipid science expert from the National Institute of Nutrition, an Indian Council of Medical Research lab in Hyderabad, said that increasing the concentration of milk polar lipids in buttermilk by several folds would be an expensive proposition.